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The High Court Has Ruled That The 15-month Period For Filing A No-confidence Motion Under The Panchayat Raj Act Begins When The President Takes Office.

Pulugam Devaki ,
  24 June 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
The High Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru
Brief :

Citation :
Writ Appeal No. 1508 of 2023 (LB-RES)

Case title:

P. Reethi Mune Gowda v. The State of Karnataka Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj 

Date of Order:

13th June 2024

Bench:

The Hon’ble Mr. N.V. Anjaria, Chief Justice and The Hon'ble Mr. Justice Krishna S Dixit

Parties:

Appellants: 

P. Reethi Mune Gowda 

Versus

Respondents

  1. The State Of Karnataka Department Of Rural Development And Panchayat Raj M.S. Building Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi Bengaluru - 560 001 Rep. By Principal Secretary 
  2. The Assistant Commissioner Bengaluru North Sub-Division Kandha Bhavan K.G. Road Bengaluru - 560 009. 
  3. Bagaluru Grama Panchayat Bagaluru Village, Jala Hobli, - 2 - Yelahanka Taluk Bengaluru - 502 149 Rep. By Its Panchayath Development Officer 
  4. A. Kempegowda S/O Late S. Anjanappa, Aged 42 Years, Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  5. Praveen Taj W/O Baba Jhan, Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  6. B.N. Nagaveni W/O B.S. Pillegowda Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  7. B.S. Prabhuswamy S/O B.S. Sideshappa Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  8. Dhananjay B S/O Bhimanna Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  9. Hemalatha W/O Anilkumar Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  10. Anjanamma W/O Sallappa Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat - 3 
  11. Rafia Sulthan W/O Dasthagiri Sab Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  12. M.D. Usman Ghanni S/O Late Sulaiman Sab, Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  13. B.C. Nagaraj S/O Late Channarayappa Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  14. Padmavathi W/O A. Venkataraju Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  15. Syed Shabhir S/O Late Sardar Ahemad Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  16. B.G. Nataraj S/O Gopalappa Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  17. Hameeda W/O Fakruddin Sab Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  18. Farzana W/O Mohammed Ali, Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat  
  19. Kuteja W/O Nurulla Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat - 4 – 
  20. Muni Vajaramma W/O Muni Narayanappa Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  21. Veena M W/O C. Shivanna Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  22. Lakshmamma W/O Late Gangadhar Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat 
  23. Sudheendra S/O B.K. Sampath Major In Age Member Of Bagaluru Grama Panchayat Respondents No.3 To 23 Are C/O Bagaluru Grama Panchayath Bagalur Village, Jala Hobli Yelahanaka Taluk Bengaluru – 562 149.

SUBJECT

The High Court has ruled that the 15-month period for filing a no-confidence motion under the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act begins when the president takes office. The second provision of Section 49(1) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act should be interpreted not only literally but also the purposive intent of the legislation. Here, the second provision intends to protect the Presidents or Vice Presidents from arbitrary resolutions from the members and ensure the stability of the panchayat. 

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  • Second Provision of Section 49(1) of Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act:  no resolution can be moved within the first fifteen months of the Adhyaksha or Upadhyaksha's election.

OVERVIEW (Brief Facts)

  • On March 7, 2023, the petitioner took over as the Gram Panchayat President. 

The Second Proviso (Section 49(1) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993) prohibits fifteen months from the date of the President's assumption of office; however, in this case, the President took office in the middle of the term due to the Resignation of the Former President for Personal Reasons.

  • Members of the Panchayat submitted a resolution of no-confidence against the petitioner, who was the newly elected President, on October 18, 2023. 
  • The Learned Single Judge granted the no-confidence action against the petitioner, ruling that the fifteen-month term had begun on the day of the first President's election (27.12.2021) and had already passed by 26.05.2023. 
  • In this present writ petition is filed under Section 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act, 1961, by the petitioner challenging and appealing the judgement of the Learned Single judge passed on 17.11.2023.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether the fifteen-month period begins with the election of the first President or with the assumption of office by a new President in the midst of the term.

COURT ANALYSIS 

  • The single judge's ruling, based on Smt. C. Pushpa vs. the State of Karnataka [ILR 2019 KAR 2395] stated that the wording "from the date of his election" in Section 49 relates to the President's or Vice-President's first date of election of the first president or vice-president 
  • This court holds that the single judge's literal reading would result in absurd interpretations, hindering no-confidence proceedings during the term. The court favoured a more rational approach.
  • The Court examined the wording used in legislation to ascertain legislative purpose. The Second Proviso is intended to avoid repeated no-confidence motions against officeholders. The Second Proviso seeks to create stability by securing Presidents and Vice Presidents from many no-confidence votes during the first fifteen-month period of their terms. 
  • The court states that, while stability is crucial, the misuse of power needs to be reduced. The clause finds a middle ground between accountability and continuity in Panchayat's functioning. Both a literal reading and a purposeful application are necessary for the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993's Second Proviso to Section 49. It is not limited to the first elected President; it also refers to the President who was most recently elected and is now serving in office.
  • The court held that Beginning on the day the President takes office, there will be a fifteen-month protection period. This maintains stability and guards against the abuse of no-confidence moves for Presidents to come.
  • The appeal has been allowed, and the Learned Single Judge's ruling is set aside. 

CONCLUSION

The Karnataka High Court ruled that the tenure of the present Gram Panchayat President is the starting point for the 15-month term for filing a no-confidence petition against them, not the date of the first President's election. The purpose of this decision is to maintain accountability and continuity in the Panchayat's operations while providing stability and shielding Presidents from arbitrary votes of no confidence. After the appeal was granted, the Learned Single Judge's earlier ruling was overturned. These provisions ensure that the democratically elected members are protected under the law from unfair political considerations and that democratic processes are upheld
 

 
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